Agency stops illegal avocado exports to TZ

Harvested avocados. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) last week impounded four lorries carrying immature avocados to Tanzania, exposing a tight syndicate of local fresh produce exporters smuggling the fruits to neighbouring countries despite a government ban.

AFA’s Horticulture and Crops Directorate (HCD) said it confiscated 32 tonnes of avocados that were in the process of being illegally exported to Tanzania.

The directorate’s acting deputy director in charge of regulation and compliance Collins Otieno said the consignment was being moved via road from Kenya to Tanzania for onward export to other markets, including Europe.

“We managed to seize the vehicles full of immature avocados destined for the neighbouring country [Tanzania].  The fruits are packaged in gunnery and polythene bags, which is contrary to the regulations,” said Mr Otieno.

“We are yet to resume harvesting of our avocado after suspending the same on November 3, 2023.”  

Mr Otieno said in the recent past, there have been complaints that some traders have been transporting immature fruits to Tanzania despite the export ban. 

Those involved in the illegal export of immature avocados risk various penalties, including cancellation of their licenses.

Some traders are said to have been exporting avocados through Tanzania, which enjoys tax exemptions due to its categorisation as a least-developed country unlike Kenyan produce, which faces import duty in some countries.

The vehicles carrying the fruits stored in polythene and gunny bags were intercepted at the Namanga border by AFA security officials on Thursday evening. Working on a tip-off, the officers stopped the trucks belonging to different Nairobi-based transport companies from crossing over into Tanzania.

Addressing the media at Namanga, Mr Otieno warned that if not tamed, the ongoing harvesting of immature fruits might hurt Kenya’s exports in the international market where it is reputed for producing quality fruits.